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What is recruiting software?

Recruiting software provides a computerized system that helps hiring managers and human resources professionals manage the employee lifecycle from source to hire — identifying great candidates to onboarding new employees.

Recruiting software is often referred to as an applicant tracking system (ATS) but as the technology has evolved, this categorization is no longer correct. While important, an ATS is only a part of recruiting software which is much more comprehensive.

What is the difference between an applicant tracking system (ATS) and recruiting software?

ATS’s originally started as repositories for scanned paper resumes. As technology evolved, ATS’ then became databases designed to keep candidate information in one place and to track candidate status, for instance, determining where someone is in the onboarding process and hiring workflow.

Simply put, an ATS involves software that speeds the hiring process, including sorting, and managing candidates; posting job openings, parsing resumes; and evaluating and screening candidates. These are important functions, but again, they are limited to only an aspect of the employee experience. Conversely, candidate management is the here and now. It’s also important to note that nearly any recruiting software will include an ATS, however recruiting software typically includes many other features that increase its capabilities.

Recruiting software solutions focus on addressing every area of hiring. Features like email marketing, website design tools, and mobile capabilities are included and are examples that go beyond straightforward candidate management and the interview process. The ultimate goal of recruiting software is to deliver positive and engaging interactions to candidates while building viable and desirable talent pools.

Who uses recruiting software?

Organizations of all sizes leverage recruiting software as it’s incredibly conducive to hiring success. According to Jobscan, more than 98% of Fortune 500 companies use recruitment software. However, recruiting software is not solely for large companies and organizations, or only specific sectors. As anyone in human resources (HR) knows, finding, hiring and onboarding quality applicants can be time consuming and challenging.

Recruiting software equips users with tools to hire employees at scale: task management, social recruiting, public relations, CRM, billing, and onboarding. This is why businesses of all sizes, industries and sectors use recruiting software instead of just an ATS alone. In fact, Capterra found in their research that 94% of recruiters and hiring professionals say using a recruitment software has positively impacted their hiring process.

Within larger companies, roles that use and benefit from recruiting software include CHRO, VP of HR, VP of Talent Acquisition and hiring managers; within smaller companies, business owners themselves will use recruiting software. For industries with very strict recruiting requirements such as retail and healthcare, recruiters and hiring managers will use recruiting software.

What challenges does recruiting software solve?

The world of recruiting continues to evolve and has undergone drastic changes, particularly during the past two years with unprecedented disruption and surges in remote working. What has not changed is the need for great talent. According to a 2021 ManpowerGroup survey, talent shortages in the United States have risen to historical levels with 69% of employers having difficulty filling jobs — the highest in more than a decade.

Talent is the most important asset for an organization’s success, and while companies do realize this, they’re challenged with attracting the types of candidates required to succeed. They also struggle with retaining exceptional employees — the same employees that are attractive to other organizations, including the competition.

Some organizations struggle with successful candidate engagement as it requires maintaining constant communications. In the past, this was not an issue. Companies did not have to work hard to attract applicants. Today, candidates are the ones who are empowered. LinkedIn found that 75% of candidates will research a company’s reputation before applying for a job opening. With sites like Glassdoor that tell the story (both good and bad) of what it’s like to work at most any company, candidates can determine quickly whether an organization is one they wish to pursue even if that decision is based on what others’ have experienced.

The pressure is high for organizations to position themselves as an attractive option. How an organization appears online, the quality of the application process, communication preferences (some candidates prefer text messages instead of emails), all these factors come into play when attracting top talent. This is especially true for younger generations who expect a compelling and mobile-friendly experience. In fact, according to the most recent available U.S. Census Bureau data, more than one-in-three (35%) of American labor force participants are Millennials.

Often, organizations try to manage the employee lifecycle without any sort of recruiting software. They end up spending inordinate amounts of time on manually intensive tasks that recruiting software could ultimately automate. Staff must compose and manually post job descriptions to hiring sites and job boards, corporate social platforms (like LinkedIn); manually interact with applicants (think individual emails) and schedule interviews one-by-one, along with preparing and conducting screening questionnaires.

Once candidates are in the system, staff must also manually move people into workflows; and track KPIs, without any sort of analytics capabilities. This approach yields unreliable data and is extremely time consuming. After a candidate is hired, onboarding must take place. As any HR professional will attest, this is an important step which requires careful and extensive document preparation.

Benefits of recruiting software

Recruiting software offers a solution to very real and often costly challenges. They include:

Productivity and efficiency
With the help of recruiting software, the hiring process becomes streamlined, allowing hiring managers and HR users to get more done faster. Processing, examining and organizing candidates, as well as parsing resumes, happens with ease — even more so when artificial intelligence (AI) is built into the solution.

Single source of truth
Compliance is key when dealing with candidates — before and after hiring. For some industries, compliance is not just required, it’s monitored. Recruiting software creates centralized records, ensuring a single source of truth. During the interview process, colleagues and stakeholders can collaborate seamlessly with one another regarding candidates without worry about incomplete or incorrect information and feedback.

Candidate experience
When you consider that 63% of job seekers will likely reject a job offer because of a bad candidate experience, it’s critical that wherever they experience your brand, it’s positive. Software recruiting can assist by removing the effort of manually hosting jobs, posting jobs to job boards and media sites; creating jobs from common data elements; soliciting referrals; candidate communications; and creating targeted campaigns.

Onboarding
A simplified onboarding process allows employees to be effective immediately. Leverage information that was previously siloed in different parts of HR; use compensation data to justify better offers to new hires.

The best recruiting software: benefits for recruiters and candidates

The right recruiting software can have an enormous impact on effectiveness for the entire organization, particularly when it allows:

Centralized management
The software helps you manage all aspects of the recruiting process. From posting new positions on job boards and social media to filtering resumes for hiring managers. This saves time as it delivers a one-stop-shop that collects applicant data in a single, centralized location.

Customization
Recruiting software can be customized to work for your company's specific needs. There are no extra costs associated with changing or adding additional features if necessary. When using this kind of technology, you will have the ability to connect other solutions to your recruiting software through integration. This means that everything from candidate screening interviews to offer acceptance happens within a single system.

Qualified search
Using recruiting software also increases the likelihood of finding qualified talent with the ability to search for keywords within resumes. This is especially helpful if you are evaluating a large pool of candidates and don’t have time to thoroughly read every application.

Consistent process
Recruiting software also provides a more consistent process when it comes to hiring decisions. Team members have appropriate access, can log on at any time, and all adhere to a set of hiring standards with ease.

Automation
These programs simplify everything from paperless applicant tracking systems to automation of job postings, candidate communication (emails and texts), AI-based assessments, screening, and offer creation. Automating these tasks not only helps expedite the process, but also makes them less prone to error.

What are the key considerations when choosing recruiting software?

There is an incredible amount of software on the market today. That’s why it helps if you have a clear idea about your company's needs before even considering which system might work.

The biggest consideration for organizations when choosing a hiring tool is to ensure it aligns with their needs and hiring strategy. For example, if your organization is focused on diversity and inclusion (D&I) in your hiring efforts, it would be wise to investigate whether the software solution provides tools that help support bias-free recruiting decisions.

Other capabilities to consider when evaluating recruiting software solutions include:

Types of employees
Organizations today are comprised of a variety of workers: full-time, part-time, contingent, independent contractors, and more. Certain types of recruiting software offer flexibility and allow businesses to tailor the candidate selection process to specific hiring types.

Add new employees
The primary function of recruiting software is to convert new candidates to employees. Certain solutions go beyond this and allow businesses to reassign existing talent to new roles. This often requires visibility into existing employee experiences, aspirations, and the skill sets they possess.

Reskilling and upskilling opportunities
When organizations retain employees, they save money. According to LinkedIn, Internal mobility was up 20% in past year. Some recruiting software provides the ability to highlight these individuals and surface relevant, new roles they could move to.

Current trends
As with the D&I example above, some recruiting solutions are more responsive to topical and modern needs than others. Streamlining processes are a big consideration: candidates can apply without creating an account; templates make it easy for business users to build a more modern web presence; built-in tools allow targeting very specific candidate interest groups not only to fill current positions but build a talent pipeline. These are all part of the candidate experience.

Personalization
Not everyone in the organization using the recruiting software requires access to the same capabilities. Some solutions offer the ability for users to see the most common actions and to-do’s relevant only to their specific role.

Partner systems
The hiring process requires several steps, many of which aren’t possible to accomplish with recruiting software alone. Drug screening, background checks, and video interviews usually require tools from third-party organizations. It’s important that recruiting software can easily integrate with additional tools.

Connecting with the entire business
A recruiting software solution that connects the entire business allows access to the entirety of organizational data to draw better conclusions; the complete employee lifecycle resides in one place, providing a consistent experience, with no integration required to make it happen.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence
Machine learning and artificial intelligence help guide the recruiting process, starting with assessing candidates, automating workflows, predicting outcomes (for example, hiring speed, offer acceptance), and enhancing the candidate experience (with digital assistants, job recommendations to candidates, personalization, and screening). This saves time for recruiters, leads to better hiring decisions, and provides a positive impression for candidates.